Microgrants Help NSPN Chapters Make Community Connections

Nov 18, 2020

NSPN’s chapter microgrants provide up to $3000 to support chapters in their science policy, advocacy, diplomacy, or communication activities. These are long-term projects (6 months to 1 year) focused on resource development and impacts at the local, state, national, or international scale. Through this funding, NSPN aims to empower early career leaders to engage in policy and outreach nationwide. The next round of applications will close December 15.

Recent microgrant recipients have used their funding for events that strengthened community relationships. Read more about how these groups made connections with their microgrant:

Arizona Science Policy Network at Arizona State University: 2020 Science Day at the Arizona State Capitol

Four people smiling in front of a camera.

We were successfully able to engage students, decision-makers, and community leaders during Science Day. We had more than 70 students come, and more than 20 decision-makers join to see how science could improve the quality of life of members of the community and solve societal challenges. We heard from decision-makers about what science in policy looked like and what challenges they faced and the priorities they were balancing. This was very informative to students and helped inform how to engage in the future.

From this event and workshops surrounding the event, science policy memos, articles, and blogs have been written and shared with the scientific community and the public. Relationships between decision-makers, scientists, and the community were started and have been strengthened. We have started additional projects now advising on local- and state-level legislation and have established our group as a resource of science experts, as a direct result of our event. Our group continued to help empower marginalized communities, including those that attended our Science Day, to advocate on issues by providing our scientific knowledge and ensuring that it’s applicable and presented aptly to the community considering their values.

Engaging Scientists in Policy and Advocacy (ESPA) at the University of Michigan: Consensus Conference

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting in which several people are similing into their webcams.

We used our NSPN microgrant for ESPA's third annual Consensus Conference. We provided stipends to our eight panelists from the southeastern Michigan community who gathered over three weekends to discuss challenges and opportunities related to app-based work and the gig economy and ultimately detail their policy recommendations as representatives of the community. We plan to distribute the community panel’s report to local policy makers very soon.

Based on a survey after the Consensus Conference, one attendee said, “I do think community sourced policy is a great starting point in getting a feel for how one’s community feels about a topic. Work like this can be effective moving forward as it allows ideas to be presented from people of various backgrounds and experiences.”

Another attendee said, “Following the conference, I felt empowered. It was refreshing when my peers from the community in the conference, and the experts on the panel offered their wisdom. It felt good knowing their words may become part of the final report that is presented to legislators.”

Science Policy Group at the University of California, San Francisco, Scientists in Sacramento

A group of people standing in front of the California state Capitol building.

The combination of scientific expertise and political passion is a powerful tool for change. SPG at UCSF’s 2019-2020 “Scientists in Sacramento” Series introduced scientists to the vibrant world of policy and advocacy. Through three hands-on workshops and one trip to Sacramento, we taught attendees how to research policy in their scientific field, craft effective advocacy materials, and interact meaningfully with policymakers in the California State Capitol. Thanks to generous funding from NSPN’s Civic Engagement Microgrant, our attendees could learn the ins and outs of political engagement directly from legislative experts like Amiee Alden and Allie Jones from UCSF’s Office of Community & Government Relations, as well as UCOP Legislative Director Dr. Michael Bedard. These microgrant funds also allowed us to guide a group of scientists through their first trip to Sacramento, where they formed lasting relationships with lawmakers and produced publishable policy documents. By the end of the series, our scientist attendees had developed into confident, capable advocates for informed, science-based policy.

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To learn more about NSPN’s chapter microgrants, visit our website. The next round of applications will close December 15.

If you have questions about the Microgrant or other funding opportunities, talk with the Director of Finance, Michaela Rikard, during her office hours (“Money Talks”) every Thursday at 4 PM Eastern Time. Further meeting details can be found on our website.


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